• Stool Softeners

    WHY is this medicine prescribed?

    Stool softeners are used on a short-term basis to relieve constipation by people who should avoid straining during bowel movements because of heart conditions, hemorrhoids, and other problems. They soften stools, making them easier to pass.
    This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

    HOW should this medicine be used?

    Stool softeners come as a capsule, tablet, liquid, and syrup to take by mouth. A stool softener usually is taken at bedtime. Follow the directions on the package or your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take stool softeners exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
    Take capsules and tablets with a full glass of water. The liquid comes with a specially marked dropper for measuring the dose. Ask your pharmacist to show you how to use it if you have difficulty. Mix the liquid (not the syrup) with 4 ounces (120 milliliters) of milk, fruit juice, or formula to mask its bitter taste.
    One to three days of regular use usually are needed for this medicine to take effect. Do not take stool softeners for more than 1 week unless your doctor directs you to. If sudden changes in bowel habits last longer than 2 weeks or if your stools are still hard after you have taken this medicine for 1 week, call your doctor.

    What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?

    Before taking stool softeners,
    • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to any drugs.
    • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially aspirin and vitamins. Do not take mineral oil while taking stool softeners.
    • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking stool softeners, call your doctor.

    What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?

    This medication usually is taken as needed. If your doctor has told you to take stool softeners regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

    What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?

    Stool softeners may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
    • stomach or intestinal cramps
    • nausea
    • throat irritation (from oral liquid)
    If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
    • skin rash (hives)
    • difficulty breathing or swallowing
    • fever
    • vomiting
    • stomach pain
    If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch ] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].

    What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?

    Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.

    What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?

    Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about taking this medicine.
    It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

    Brand Names

    • Colace®
    • Correctol Soft Gels®
    • Diocto®
    • Ex-Lax Stool Softener®
    • Fleet Sof-Lax®
    • Phillips' Liqui-Gels®
    • Surfak®
    • Correctol 50 Plus® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Ex-Lax Gentle Strength® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Gentlax S® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Peri-Colace® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Senokot S® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Also available generically

    Other Names

    • dioctyl calcium sulfosuccinate
    • dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate
    • docusate calcium
    • docusate sodium
    • DOSS
    • DSS

    Senna

    (sen' a)

    WHY is this medicine prescribed?

    Senna is used on a short-term basis to treat constipation. It also is used to empty the bowels before surgery and certain medical procedures. Senna is in a class of medications called stimulant laxatives. It works by increasing activity of the intestines to cause a bowel movement.

    HOW should this medicine be used?

    Senna comes as a liquid, powder, granules, and tablets to take by mouth. It is usually taken the evening before a bowel movement is desired. Senna normally causes a bowel movement within 6 to 12 hours. Do not take senna for more than 1 week without talking to your doctor. Follow the directions on your package or prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take senna exactly as directed. Frequent or continued use of senna may make you dependent on laxatives and cause your bowels to lose their normal activity. If you do not have a regular bowel movement after taking senna, do not take any more medication and talk to your doctor.
    If you are taking the senna tablets, swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water; do not split, chew, or crush them.

    Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?

    This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

    What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?

    Before taking senna,
    • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to senna, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in these products. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
    • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
    • tell your doctor if you have stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or a sudden change in bowel movements lasting more than 2 weeks.
    • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking senna, call your doctor.
    • talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking senna if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take senna products over a long period of time because they are not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.

    What SPECIAL DIETARY instructions should I follow?

    A regular diet and exercise program is important for regular bowel function. Eat a high-fiber diet and drink plenty of liquids (eight glasses) each day as recommended by your doctor.

    What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?

    This medication usually is taken as needed. If your doctor has told you to take senna regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

    What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?

    Senna may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
    • brown discoloration of urine
    • faintness
    • stomach discomfort
    • nausea
    • stomach cramps
    Some side effects can be serious. If you experience this symptom, stop taking senna and call your doctor immediately:
    • rectal bleeding
    Senna may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
    If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch ] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].

    What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?

    Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.

    What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?

    In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

    What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?

    Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about senna.
    It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

    Brand Names

    • Black Draught®
    • Ex-Lax®
    • Fletcher's Castoria®
    • Nature's Remedy®
    • Senexon®
    • Senna X-Prep®
    • Senokot®
    • Correctol 50 Plus® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Ex-Lax Gentle Strength® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Gentlax S® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Perdiem Overnight Relief® (as a combination product containing Psyllium, Sennosides)
    • Peri-Colace® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Senokot S® (as a combination product containing Docusate, Sennosides)
    • Also available generically

    Other Names

    • sennosides
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